Graphic Novel Review: Bone – The Great Cow Race

This is the first time I’ve read a comic (now known as a graphic novel) since my teenage years. Back then I was into Richie Rich, Casper, Asterix, all the super heroes comics and MAD magazines. As I was trying to pick something for this comic review at the library, I noticed that the super heroes comics now looked so sophisticated and ‘dark’. Nothing like the ‘innocent’ stories in my days. Flicking through their pages I decided that I wasn’t going to corrupt my mind with these stories and continued on searching for others. I came across two graphic novels (vol 2 & 4) of the Bone series by Jeff Smith. There are nine in this series and I am reviewing no. 2 – The Great Cow Race.

I’m not familiar at all with the Bone series but I felt instantly warm towards the main characters: Fone Bone and his cousins Phoney and Smiley; Thorn (whom Fone has a crush on); and Gran’ma Ben. I caught up with the story as well, not having read the first volume. Somehow, the Bone characters are trying to get back to their village and have met Thorn and Gran’ma Ben on the way. They are caricatured so comically – imagine Casper the Ghost but with huge noses – against ‘normally’ drawn people who reminded me of the characters from Asterix.

In chapter one – the Spring Fair, we find Fone and Thorn walking through the market fair. It’s very obvious to the reader that Fone is in love with Thorn but is not brave enough to let her know. Meanwhile, Phoney and Smiley are scheming up some get-quick-rich plan in the coming cow race that Gran’ma Ben is taking part in. Yes I was unsure about this and wondered why she is the only human to race against a bunch of cows. It seems she is quite a fast runner for her age.

In chapter three Рthe Mystery Cow, we find Fone talking to a leaf insect called Ted. They were discussing the woes of being in love. Ted advises Fone to write Thorn a love poem instead of telling her how he feels.  I thought this was the funniest bit in the volume. Here is how the dialogue goes:

  • Fone: Write her? You mean like a love poem or something’? No way!
  • Ted: Sure! Why not? In fack, tha’s jes th’ very thing! A poetry would let her know how ya feels!
  • Fone: What’s th’ point, Ted? I mean…she’s so beautiful…an’ I’m so funny lookin’.
  • Ted: Right! Right! You writes a real rowzer of rhyme, see? Then Thorn gets th’ romantic part without you standin’ there to remind her how poofy lookin’ you is! (p. 59)

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this comic and I believe as a consequence it has reignited my youth’s passion for this form of literature. This is a fun and easy story to follow and as with most graphic novels, I am impressed with its illustrations. I think it’s something you would read if you want to be entertained. It’s also a great way to get your young teenage boys to enjoy reading. Research shows that with regards to literacy, boys lag behind girls, and need that extra motivation to develop their reading skills.

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